Whether carousing in the inn's common room or lurking in the depths of an ancient tomb, the one thing that an adventurer is bound to encounter in his career is...
Another group of adventurers!
Sometimes they arrive like the proverbial cavalry as the ogres begin their charge, other times they abscond with the quest's goal while the party watches in horror.
I hereby present for your edification and enjoyment:
30 stalwart bands, ready to boldly seek adventure (or not)!
1.) The Dour Dwarves: These solidly-built fellows are often members of the same clan, dedicated to looking for something. It may be as simple as the secret passage into their clan's ruined ancestral halls or as bizarre as a crystal sarcophagus for their leader's deceased girlfriend, but odds are that they will need help to achieve their goal.
2.) The Dashing Rogues: This group of charming fellows is always ready with a jest and a few silvers for the tavern wench, until they vanish into the night, leaving behind a substantial debt with the landlord, an angry husband or two, and a large bar tab.
3.) Nature's Defenders: An opinionated band of Rangers and Druids, these unwashed flower children will attempt to stop the depredations of local authorities against nature. Perhaps they hope to stop the local baron's foresters from preying on the forest elves, or perhaps they hope to unleash a plague that will wipe out the humans once and for all.
4.) The Tomb Robbers: The only thing stopping these fellows from despoiling the local churchyard is the sexton's watchful eye; they consider any other tombs or crypts fair game. They can often be found in an ancient ruin, chiseling off the masterwork frescos in the hope of selling them for a few coins.
5.) The Poseurs: This bunch of fine-looking heroes basks in the adulation bestowed upon them by tavern wenches and jealous passerby, but they carefully conceal that their heroic deeds are entirely the product of a bard's imagination. These impressive specimens can be found in the tavern, taking credit for the achievements of better men with impressive bragadoccio.
6.) The Awful Lawfuls: These self-righteous warriors have come to stand for all that is righteous and true... and stifling, inflexible, and intolerant. They will start by first making the minstrel in the inn stop playing his 'indecent' music. Then they will move on to address the party members' behavior...
7.) The Elvish Lords: These sons of the forest will carefully avoid any suggestion that they aren't better then the shorter-lived races around them. They have come to seek aid resolving one of their race's ancient grudges, but they will do so in the most annoying possible way. Don't let them talk you into any sort of wager about archery.
8.) The Impromptu Inquisition: This band of intolerant folk is seeking a criminal. Someone's going to pay for the crime, whether the one they nab is guilty or not.
9.) The Necromancer's Heirs: A pair of identical twin Necromancers, they are waited upon by a horde of the walking dead. They will be quite offended when the innkeeper's dog chews up one of their skeletal horses' leg bones.
10.) The Bozo Brigade: These fine fellows are ready to take on any quest, once they get around to it. They'll need to sober up first, and deal with the pawnshop to get their gear back, but once their patron takes care of that for them, they may eventually prove helpful.
11.) The Accursed: These adventurers, more bold than prudent, have triggered an awful curse upon their heads. It hasn't occurred to them that destruction will rain down on everyone that meets them as the curse starts to play out.
12.) The Lowlifes: There may be some things that are too low and sleazy for these guys, but they haven't found anything yet. These fellows would never betray one another, unless there was money involved, or unless it was over a woman, or unless they were just in a bad mood... At least they haven't resorted to cannibalism.
13.) The Heroes from Beyond the Grave: These bold warriors never take off their armor and hooded robes, as most villagers would be reluctant to welcome the undead in their town. They're not going to let a little thing like dying stop them from finishing their quest.
14.) The Apprentices: This bunch of apprentice magicians is glad to be away from their master, a harsh man that treats them like his personal slaves. He has sent them out to gather rare components for an enchantment he hopes to try. The team has a couple of warriors to provide muscle, but the rest of them are treating their expedition like a vacation.
15.) The Confused Foreigners: These visitors from another land don't understand local customs and barely speak the language. In their homeland, they are considered great and famous heroes, so they are generally shocked by the lack of consideration shown them by the local folk. They could use some help completing their quest, but may have great difficulty explaining what it is.
16.) The Light Fingers: These fine fellows are courteous, helpful, humble and generous. Of course, while they are being all these things, they are planning how they will take everyone around them to the cleaners.
17.) The Old-Timers: These experienced champions have come out of retirement to complete one last quest. They may be a little rusty, but they have a few tricks younger heroes haven't picked up on. If only their old injuries don't act up, they'll show the younger generation a thing or two. You'd be amazed at the things they can do with even a humble iron spike!
18.) The Returning Veterans: These warriors are on their way back from a grim, hard fought war. Fatigue and weariness, despair and anguish are written on their features. Their honor drives them to complete one last mission, but they sense that they may never survive it.
19.) The Northern Barbarians: These strapping heroes hail from a distant land where life is harsh, women are scarce, and furs are more than a fashion statement. That is why they have traveled so far: In the southern lands, they can get top dollar for the goods they carry. They will have a trading deal for their Jarl if it kills them; think of them as door-to-door salesmen, as written by Robert Howard.
20.) The Bright Optimists: These cheerful young bucks are ready to take on any foe, because they haven't the faintest clue how dangerous such a mission would be.
21.) The Balanced Party: This carefully arranged group has a mage, a priest, a warrior, a rogue, a dwarf, and an elf. In order to maximize their chances of finding the famous Enchanted Dingus of Axelrod, they are careful to choose appropriate tactics, they use due consideration before entering combat, and they are scrupulously proper in their dealings with the authorities. In short, they will still be in the inn plotting how they will approach their quest long after another group has found the thing and gone on their way.
22.) The Social Climbers: These common fellows subscribe to the naÃ¯ve theory that people can 'change their stars' and rise by merit rather than by who they are related to. This plan will work as long as their interests coincide with those of the authorities: As soon as that changes, they will find out that monarchies don't last if they allow unlimited social mobility. They will usually be found evading the watch after they irritate some nobleman.
23.) The Slavers: These fellows seem a pleasant lot of veteran adventurers, but they spend their time capturing those who won't be missed and selling them to those who will find uses for them. They can be found spending their ill-gotten gains on loose living or paying off the men responsible for preventing their vile trade.
24.) The Buccaneers: Slightly more genteel than the last group, these ruthless old salts have found themselves 'between ships, as it were' and hope to acquire one soon. In the meantime, they are taking odd jobs, such as contract murder.
25.) The King's Men: These loyal knights will protect the kingdom and its crown, no matter the cost to them, no matter how unworthy the ruler in question actually is. They will generally be found in disgrace, plotting their inelegant revenge against courtly schemers that have gained the King's ear at their expense.
26.) The Players: This group of itinerant musicians and actors will eagerly seize on any scheme that will generate a few coins to keep their creditors at bay. They will usually be encountered looking for someone with coin to spend, hoping he'll fund their latest dramatic debacle. Meetings to discuss their next play will invariably be interrupted by jealous suitors challenging anyone who gets in their way to a duel.
27.) The Madcaps: These fellows, once bold and resourceful adventurers, have faced eldritch forces that man's mind was never meant to endure. They are still quite resourceful, but they are now mad as hatters. They can be found hiding in the inn's attic, ready to kill anyone they encounter who bears the 'Mark of the Old Ones!' (Whatever that is!)
28.) The Prophets: These determined folk were once quite unsavory sorts, but after a divine encounter, they are now on a mission from the gods. Whether it's bringing funds to save an old orphanage, or spreading a message of healing to people that would prefer to throw them off a cliff, nothing will stand in the way of their mission.
29.) The Witches: This coven of socially unacceptable females is out to show what a bunch of determined 'womyn' can do. They are the sort of people that say 'oppressive patriarchy' (often!) and mean it.
30.) The Party Not Appearing in this Film: This band of stalwart warriors has just the information the party needs, they will be glad to help the party, and they share common goals. unfortunately, they are never where the party is. All the heroes discover is a succession of people telling them that 'Those guys just left yesterday! It's too bad you got here late!'
? Hall of Honour (4 voters / 4 votes)
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? Responses (21)-23
I like them all, but the Alful Lawfuls and the Slavers are the most interesting.
Awesome. LOVE the madcaps :)
Wow, such wonders. I like the door-to-door salesmen, as written by Robert Howard folks.
Muahahaha! I am more than a little amused! You've got all the stereotypes right.
Funny read, while still very usable.
My fav is the perfect party that is still sitting in the tevern planning while the other groups have already left, won the treasuer and are on their way back.
Or they are dead. Don't forget: unprepared parties die very often.
Now if they could just agree on what colour to dress in for the nightly journey. :)
That group was modeled on some players I had once who couldn't do anything before they had planned every last detail. It saved me a lot of work as a GM, as all I had to do was supply them with a rumor to paralyze them for hours, but it did get old.
The Social Climbers are pretty amusing too. Imagine them bing lured to take on an epic quest with some extravagent promise, only to have an army of assasins pursuing them as the reward for their courage. Kinda takes the fairy-tale ending out,no?
We have seen these stereotypes run rampant though the years of gaming. It is admusing to see them all in one place.
This is a classic.
Neat. I like the use of a little deus ex machina with the 'Not Appearing In This Film' party.
Thanks, BH for the bump, wouldn't have found this otherwise!
This is surely destined to become a Citadel classic.
Not sure why I didn't before, but here's an HOH for ya!
Overall, a well-founded article. I did find it just a bit light in the details department however. The three major details I found lacking were race, gender, and size.
I noticed is that there was little discussion of what races the members of the average band were (with a few notable exceptions). While I agree that keeping things generic to allow game masters to easily modify this for their own use, I feel that there should have been more information available on whether or not the groups were single-race composition, mostly of one race, or mixed-race composition. To take this a bit further into the other concept of race, you could additionally include groups made up of members who are not quite locals, but not complete foreigners, such as those from neighboring countries.
While I'm sure that it was in no way your intent to come across as sexist, only one female group out of 30 does come across that way. However, I think that by noting more mixed or partially mixed groups with both male and female members would help alleviate the problem without disrupting the entire project.
With the exception of The Necromancer's Heirs and The Balanced Party, I couldn't get any feel for how large or small the bands were. Again, keeping the group size fairly generic allows for easy game master customization, however in many circumstances, giving a generic size description would have really helped to bring the groups into focus. While I don't think straight numbers are entirely necessary (for instance, calling the group tiny, small, average-sized, large, big, huge, etc. instead), in some cases (for instance The Returning Veterans), number usage could be employed to help illustrate the group (using The Returning Veterans again, giving a number, and then making a note about how many comrades they've lost, would really improve the feel of the group). Mainly, using size descriptors helps by showing the current condition of the group, which can illustrate the group's lack or relative notoriety, recent losses or gains, define a small elite band or a large group held together only by a common interest.
Now, for my personal quirk. I felt that the majority of the groups would have benefitted from more physical description. Describing their appearance, clothing, notable features to the group, etc. would have really helped game masters when describing these groups to players. I prefer to setup my non-player character descriptions this way for usage simply because these should be the first details the player characters will notice. It would take longer for the player characters to get a feel for the personalities and behavior of the various groups, though, as is done here, this information is invaluable for fleshing out such groups.
I think in this particular case you have missed the point, Kuseru. This _is_ really a collection of archetypes, and the details you request would have been nice, but are not a part of them. Actually, they would distract from the groups.
For the things you require can be created a couple of tables to choose the descriptors from.
Another beaut. Bump.
This is a model 30 sub; every item on the list is well-defined and easily usable. Thanks!
For a while, I have been wanting two play 2 PC parties in the same setting, each being a kind of The Party Not Appearing in This Film to the other (until some inevitable climax, or with occasional Gary-Oak-esque encounters), but haven't been able to work it out logistically. I think there would be amazing potential though.
I know of a guy who DMed a campaign like that, with hilarious results. His first party spread a rumour about a mystical disembodied head, which, when one replaces one's usual head with it, grants the user incredible arcane powers (or whatever), and even built a little mini-dungeon with a couple of traps and some poor sucker's head in a chest. The second party heard about this artifact everywhere they went, and heard that the other group was after it, so they raced over to the dungeon, got the head, and then started to argue about who should get to use it. They eventually agreed to give it to the wizard, and cut off his head, killing him. They then spent another fifteen minutes arguing about whether, now that he was dead, they should really give it to him, or just use it themselves. When they finally put it on the wizard's body, nothing happened. The PCs decided that the artifact had not worked because they had wasted too much time in between the decapitation and the replacement, so they decapitated another party member and tried it again, only to realize, finally, that they had been played.
That would be the dreaded Head of Vecna, a tale almost as well-known in gaming lore as the ancient legend of Dave and the Gazebo. Versions of both anecdotes can be found online: They're quite amusing...
What a great idea for a 30! My absolute favorite here is the group of Poseurs. I would have them taking all the credit for a bunch of the party's accomplishments, thus setting them up as instant rivals. Would be good if at least one of them was a Magnificent Bastard to boot.
One suggestion: I would really really love it if you included a short list of 'also known as' names for each group. For instance, I don't really see a group calling themselves 'The Poseurs' or 'The Madcaps' (though those are apt headings for each archetype). Names like 'The Dashing Dandies' or 'The Black Hearts' or 'The Order of Thoth' are more in-game appropriate and would make a really nice addition.